With so many demands on our time these days, we can often forget to incorporate a few basics that are essential for maintaining good health. By making some key changes, we can lower our risk of various diseases and potentially live longer and healthier lives into our retirement years. Here are some tips to get you started.
There is no magic number. Adults should get 7-9 hours a night. Don’t get less sleep during the week and more on the weekends. It doesn’t work this way. Have consistent sleep hours every day. Ideally, you’re getting enough sleep if you can wake up without an alarm clock and feel refreshed. Chronic sleep deprivation has many negative health effects and can lead to premature aging.
This is critical. Stress is not necessarily bad. It’s how we manage it that matters. It’s our responsibility to protect ourselves. Look at what is causing stress and take control of it. Avoid known triggers, don’t keep feelings bottled up inside, assert yourself positively and appropriately, accept things you cannot change, manage time well, and engage in fun and relaxing activities. Talk with your doctor or a therapist if needed.
This is essential. Get at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise most days of the week. Strength training is also important, but if you’re limited on time, focus on cardiovascular exercise. This keeps weight under control, lowers stress, and decreases the risk of many diseases. You don’t need to exercise all at one. Break it up throughout the day, if that’s easier to do.
Strong relationships with our significant other, family, friends, and co-workers are essential. Our social networks provide us valuable support, encouragement, and strength. They help us live longer and better. Nurture them.
Establish a relationship with a physician you trust. Keep up with your chronic health conditions, annual physicals, and screening tests. See your doctor as your partner in health, not someone you avoid.
Healthy eating includes 5-6 servings of fruits and vegetables. Try to get five different colors a day because each color contains different anti-oxidant and anti-cancer properties. Add 2-3 servings of lean protein (i.e. chicken, fish, legumes) and limited whole grains each day. Lower carbohydrate intake is now recommended. Low fat diets are out. Eat healthy fats in moderation. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats have many beneficial health effects on our bodies. Some examples are avocados, certain nuts (walnuts, almonds, flax and pumpkin seeds), olive and canola oil, and fatty fish. Minimize sugar, saturated and trans fat, and salt. Drink at least 5-6 glasses of water a day. Avoid soda, and limit coffee to a couple of cups a day.
If you drink, moderation is important (i.e. for men, two drinks a day or less; for women, one drink a day or less). Avoid tobacco and illegal drugs. Maintain a healthy weight.
Originally from PRO Pulse May-June 2014
By Robert C. Goode